Chapter Seven

Zorro steadily rode back to the secret cave.  His head feels vertiginous
since the wound had been reopened, darkness fell upon numerous times but he
fought to stay conscious.  Dismounting Tornado, he stumbled into the secret
room nearly bumping into Bernado.

" Bernado! What are you doing up so early?" Diego exclaimed.

Bernado stared at him in a strange way, knowing what he's going to say, Diego
said, " What?"  Bernado sighed and gestured that he went out with his wound.
Noticing that the wound had reopened he made Diego sat down and began to
clean his wound.

" Bernado, I got some news form Desoto."  Diego said.  Bernado's head jerked
up.  " He and his servant, Paco, had a camp near the stream just down hill, I
went to visit him."  Bernado signed if anything happen.  Diego smiled weakly,
" Well, nothing happened tonight, but something will happen tomorrow." He
looked puzzled.  Diego winced with pain as he finished cleaning out his
wound.  Knowing that Bernado would like to know the rest of the story, he
continued, " Desoto, as you know is still mad that I won that duel eight
years ago, so now he is demanding for a rematch.  The duel is set tomorrow
noon at the plaza."  Bernado strongly shook his head meaning that Diego
shouldn't go, with his wound not even healing.

" But I have no choice, he would hurt all the people that I care and love if
I don't arrive at the duel, and the worst part is…..He's going to take you
away."  Just thinking of this made Bernado shivered with fright.  " Noticing,
Diego said, " Don't worry my friend, no matter what I won't let him take you
away, not even a chance."  Bernado smiled, feeling so lucky to have a friend
and master like Don Diego.  Taking Diego back to his room and in bed, he went
back to his room as well, feeling uneasy.

The next morning, news that Desoto challenged the fox was spreading
everywhere; people were chatting about it all morning. Bernado was wondering
around the pueblo, wondered who spread the news, he walked around, thinking
that he should get back to the hacienda to tell Don Diego, turning to his
mule, a shinning object was lying on the ground, he walked over to examined
it when darkness feel upon him.

"  Diego! When is the time you are going to wake up?  It's nearly noon!"  Don
Alejandro called at his son. " When is he ever going to change…" He mumbled.
Knocking at the door, " Diego!"  With no response, he opened the door and
poked his head in, " Diego! When are….."  He looked on with surprised, his
son wasn't in there, and the bed was empty and made.  " What in the world?"
He thought.  Don Alejandro, confused he walked into the room.  He saw the
papers of poems and essays that his son wrote, books that he read.  Shaking
his head, he opened one of the drawers of his desk and began to look through
it, just as he was going to close it, something caught his eye.  A brown
envelope lay at the very end of the drawer; he glanced at it and took it out.
 Outside the envelope was printed neatly. Madrid University Student Record,
curious in what his weakling son had been studied he opened it.  That's when
he saw a record file from Sir Edmond Kendall, he's friend.  " I thought
Diego.." He mumered, reading the file nearly gave him a heart disorder.  The
file was written by Sir Edmond Kendall, the worlds best fencer, inside he
wrote carefully of every fencing tournament and duels that Diego won, he even
wrote that Diego actually won a duel with Kendall.  Don Alejandro stared with
surprise, " How can my weak son Diego win duels and tournaments?  And
actually best the world greatest fencer? Impossible, Impossible. " He
thought, he put everything back in order and left the room confused.

Mean while, Desoto was at the camp waiting for Paco to return, " Where is
that idiot. " He mumered.    He stalked around the camp and began to think of
his plan for tomorrow.  Just then, he heard a slight sound behind him; he
turned and found Paco walking towards him.

" You idiot! Do you know how long you've been?  Nearly the entire morning!"
Desoto scolded.

" I'm sorry patron, there was so many people at the pueblo I didn't want to
get noticed."  Paco stammered.

"  Well, did you bring what I want?"  Desoto sneered, " Si, he's tied up over
there by the horses." " Very good, you may go and return to your work.  I
would like to have a word with him."  Paco begun to work as Desoto strolled
over to the trees where Paco mentioned.  Bernado was tied up tightly with a
gag in his mouth, he had tried to loosen the ropes but they were to tight for
him to handle.  When he looked up, he saw a pair of evil eyes staring
straight at him.

" Well, Well, Well, what have we have here?" Desoto said with glee, " The
servant of the fox eh?"  Bernado was terrified, wishing that Diego was with
him, he closed his eyes.

"  That year you went with him, do you know how you humiliated me? You decide
to be a fox's servant eh? And rather not stay with me eh? Well, tomorrow I
will let your pretty master pay for what he had done to me!'  Desoto said
angrily, anger was rising up in his chest, he couldn't wait until tomorrow,
he will finally win that de la vega, he will finally get his honor back.
Bernado was shaking with fear, hoping that Desoto gets the idea he cannot
hear; he didn't respond to anything he said.

" I'm going to beat de la vega, no matter what I'm going to make him as
mortified as I was, now what do you think about that?"  Desoto sneered at
Brenda, still not responding, stared straight ahead, as if no one was there.
Desoto is annoyed by the way Brenda was treating him, he kicked him in the
stomach causing Brenda to wince with pain, " That's for not responding to a
person that's much higher class then you are."  Desoto said.  Turning away he

" Paco!"

Paco turned with fright and answered, " S..Si, Patron?"

Desoto glared at Brenda and said, " Look after the prisoner, do not let him
get away, if you make one single mistake at this assignment I will kill you
myself! Do you understand me?"

" Si, Don Jose."

" Ha! Ha! Let's see now if you will come or not de la vega!" Desoto thought
with glee, he sat down and polished his sabre, Brenda knew he was in great
danger, he knew clearly why he had kidnapped him. Oh Don Diego! He thought,
do be careful tomorrow………..

Anna Maria carried a basket and was in the garden picking fresh flowers, as
she went to the rose bushes, tears welled up in her eyes, the roses remind
her of Zorro, he always brings the best roses when he visits her. She
gathered all her flowers and decided to go back inside the hacienda, that's
when a black gloved hand pulled her back by the rose bushes, she was about to
scream when a finger attached the black pressed against her lips.

" I don't think that will be a very good idea, mi amor."  A soft gentle voice

Anna Maria said, " Zorro!  You nearly gave me a heart attack!"

Zorro smiled mischievously and said, " That means I have to make that up."

He lift up her chin and press his lips against hers, she returned the kiss
immediately, he pulled away form her before they went too far, he held her
close in his arms.  Anna Maria pressed her cheeks against his chest and heard
his heart beating fast, she looked up into his eyes and said, " I heard about
the duel tomorrow, it's deadly isn't it?"  It was not a question; she knew it
in her heart.  Zorro slowly bent down and kisses her softly, " I have no
choice senorita, the duel matters to everyone I care, everyone I love,"
looking in her eyes, " and the woman I cherish."  Anna Maria looked confused.

" What does the man have to do with us?"

"  The man and I had a little quarrel during the university years, I took
away his pride and honor by winning a duel at that time."

" But it's just a duel, why did he take it that seriously?"

" Ah my love, that is one thing you do not understand, at that time, he was a
senior, and I was just a junior.  He had his confidence that he would win, by
the never thought that he would lose against a junior, so he had tracked me
down and want revenge, so he demanded a rematch."  Zorro replied.

Anna Maria looked up with surprise, " Then that means he knows who you really

Zorro swallowed hard and said, " Si, he does, and that's another thing that's
bothering me now."

" But you have a pardon! He can't do anything to you!"  Anna Maria said.

" Si, but then I don't have the pardon now, it's still with the governor, as
long as I don't have the document with me, he can do whatever he wants to
me."  Zorro said sadly.

" So, you are still an outlaw when you fight tomorrow?" Anna Maria said

Caressing her cheek he replied, " Si, I am."

" That's not fair, you fought so hard for justice and cruelty, now a man is
coming to destroy all your hard work?"

Zorro said, " Life is always unfair Anna Maria, mine has never been straight
since the day I started all this, my father thinks I'm a weakling and I can't
be with the woman I love openly."

Anna Maria listens with surprise, " After you had done all this your father
thinks you are weak?"

Laughing softly he replied, " If he knows and think I'm a weakling, I don't'
know what to do then."  Anna Maria was even more surprised, " That means,
your father doesn't know? "

" No, he doesn't.  I wish he knows but my chance was blown away."  Zorro
gazed at the morning sun, holding Anna Maria in his arms, " I wanted him to
see what his son has been doing, I want to see the pride look on his face,
but I lost the chance."

" Oh Zorro…" Anna Maria said, " I never thought how hard your life had been,
I ever thought of was our life together, I've been so selfish!"

" Anna Maria, please do not blame yourself, " He said gently, wiping of tears
that were rolling down her cheeks, " I had done the same. There had been so
many times I've thought of just rip of this mask and let you see the real me,
but my friend stopped me numerous times, reminding me that I have a pueblo to
save, Z's to carve, I just hope I can end all this tomorrow."

" I hope so too."  She hugged him tightly, wishing that she could give him
comfort, wishing she could give him more then a hug, a kiss. " But you are
wounded, how can you beat him?"  Zorro almost forgot about that!  " I feel
fine, don't worry about it." He lied, his head was spinning.
" I better get back before father or Brenda misses me, or before I collapse."
Zorro thought. He pulled away form her sweet embrace and said, " I have to
leave now, or your maidservant will surly think it's odd for you to be out so

" I don't care, as long as you're with me, nothing in the world troubles me."
 Anna Maria replied, he reached for her lips and kissed her passionately.

" Adios, mi amor." He whispered softly, he turned and jumped over the wall,
Tornado was waiting at the other side of the hacienda, he mounted and rushed
away like the wind, Anna Maria waited until she can no longer hear the hoofs
banging against the ground.  She sighed and went inside.